Tuesday, March 29

Mass Effect: Arrival

Bioware has unveiled a new piece of downloadable content for Mass Effect 2, and it's a doozy--the final mission for the game. Available for download starting today, Mass Effect: Arrival will put the finishing touches on Commander Shepard's battle with the Reapers...at least for the time being. And making a celebrated return is Admiral Hackett, voiced by the always excellent Lance Henriksen of Alien and Terminator fame.

While Bioware isn't revealing too much of the plot of ME: Arrival, you can bet we'll see Shepard being sent off to kick some Reaper behind. The extra mission should tide fans of the Mass Effect series over until later this year, when we'll get some more details on ME3. Gamers can grab the download for 560 MS Points on Xbox 360, £5.49 on PlayStation Network and 560 BioWare Points for PC users.

Thursday, March 24

"Friday" Parodies

Last week we posted the awful, terrible mess that is Rebecca Black's "Friday." Well, any video with about six times as many "dislikes" as "likes" on YouTube is bound to get parodies. Here are three of the best ones. Which one is your favorite?

"Wednesday" by TheBoysintheBurbs

"Monday" by suburbanhomeboy

"Friday (Fried Eggs)" by funnyz

Wednesday, March 23

Madden '12 Lets Fans Vote for Cover Athlete

EA Sports announced on Monday that fans will be able to select the cover athlete for the next installment in the Madden series of video games. This is similar to the NCAA Football '12 selection process, where fans can participate in a bracket-style voting campaign on ESPN. 32 candidates, one for each NFL team, will vie for the chance to be the next cover boy. The votes will determine who advances (if only March Madness was that easy), and the final winner will be revealed on ESPN's "SportsNation" on April 27. The bracket does have some interesting choices, such as "The 12th Man" for the Seattle Seahawks and offensive lineman Jake Long for the Miami Dolphins. My personal pick is either Chiefs' Jamaal Charles because he's so electrifying, or Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jaguars, since he already has a pretty good Madden commercial. Check it out below.

NBA Players in Hollywood?

The Lakers and Clippers aren't the only teams to enjoy the fame of LaLa land. The folks over at The Basketball Jones (who already have produced the hilarious "Like a Bosh" video) talk with NBA players about how their life stories would look if they made it to the big screen. This has been done to death before, but TBJ does a good job of putting a fresh spin on it. Take a look at the end result below.

TBJ exclusive: NBA players go Hollywood from The Basketball Jones on Vimeo.

This Day in History
1765- The British impose the Stamp Act on the colonies. The legislation levied a direct tax on all materials printed for commercial and legal use in the colonies, from newspapers and pamphlets to playing cards and dice.

1894- The first Stanley Cup championship was played. Montreal defeated Ottawa, 3-1.

Tuesday, March 22

Here We Gooooooo!

Today's post will be mostly Nintendo themed. Actually, it's really just Mario themed. Below are a pair of videos on two different subjects, but they both involve everyone's favorite plumber. The first is courtesy of the folks over at Facerocker, who takes our mustachioed friend and puts him at the heart of a first-person shooter. The end result looks like something that has people frothing at the mouth, hoping this someday comes to fruition. Not bloody likely, but still pretty cool.

However, most fans still prefer the classic Mario, and the second video, courtesy of YouTube user durden77, delivers. Now, very rarely, if ever, do users get their own mention on here, but sometimes ya gotta make an exception. Durden is one of a number of YouTube users to do a "Let's Play," a term previously unheard of on our end. In a nutshell, it's the uploader playing a game while commenting on it. Sometimes the comments are strategic tips, sometimes they're just useless tidbits, and sometimes they're just hilarious sarcasm. Durden made a "Let's Play" for Super Mario 64, which is one of the greatest video games of all time. His method of going through and capturing 120 stars is very entertaining for fans of the game, and apparently is pretty fun for those who have never played Super Mario 64 (really? There are people who haven't played that game?!?!) as well. After 40 videos over roughly two years of uploads, he finally does reach his goal of 120 stars and defeating the final boss. Below is 1/40th of his quest, a random selection because his interaction with the monkey on the level is humorous. Kudos to durden77 for a great trip down nostalgia lane, and if you have seven hours to kill (or 10-11 minute increments at a time), it's a great thing to check out.

This Day in History
1963- Alcatraz closes its doors.

1980- The famous "Who Shot J.R.?" episode of Dallas airs. Also on this day in 1980, Jimmy Carter announces the United States will boycott the Summer Olympics in Moscow, after troops failed to meet Carter's February 20 deadline of withdrawing from Afghanistan.

Thursday, March 17

What We Learned About March Madness- Day 1

Here are 16 things we learned today, courtesy of the madness.

1) Even without a legitimate buzzer beater, this tournament is still awesome.

2) A lot of people picked the wrong 13 seed to win.

3) Picking Vanderbilt to lose in the first round seems to be a pretty good idea.

4) Picking Clemson to lose in the first legitimate round isn't a bad idea, either.

5) Going off #3 and #4, those first-four games? Yeah, they're still play in games, not the first round. We need to get rid of this "Second and third round" nonsense--today was still the first round, and anyone telling you otherwise is paid by CBS/TNT/TBS/TruTV to say it the "correct" way.

6) Michigan State is incapable of consistent play.

7) Scoring 33 points in a game as a team doesn't automatically mean you'll lose your first-round game.

8) 2-seeds are looking really good in this tournament.

9) The best reaction for an announcer to a last-second shot is just screaming. That's why Gus Johnson is so popular.

10) If you dominate your conference during the regular season and have a gaudy overall record you'll be a trendy upset pick. Maybe next time you can deliver, Belmont and Utah State.

11) Now two 16-seeds a year can say they've won an NCAA Tournament game. Too bad it's against other 16s, because it will never be against a #1 seed.

12) I still think George Mason's Rashad Whack has the coolest name in this tournament, but Gonzaga's Robert Sacre is close behind, just because saying "sacrebleu!" is so much fun.

13) This tournament proves people care about the NIT, CBI, and CI.com tournaments for about one minute and 32 seconds combined, if that.

14) Sorry, St. John's and Louisville, but losing your "glue" guy, the guy that keeps everything together, does not bode well for your chances of winning.

15) Night games are substantially less exciting than the earlier games, yet are still quite fun to watch.

16) I know I've said it before, but man, do I love March Madness.

Forget Beiber Fever, Here Comes Black Plague

Alright, so that title isn't entirely original, but hey, I'm all about corny puns, so it gets a nod. I also don't know who said it, other than a fan of today's subject, Rebecca Black. For those of you that have not heard of her, that's probably a good thing. As any reader/friend of mine knows, I often say "this song is terrible" when describing a song, such as anything by Taio Cruz, Willow Smith, Trey Songz, etc. Well, please believe me when I say that this song below is worse than anything I have ever heard. Seriously. Here is a sample of the lyrics: "Kickin' in the front seat/sittin' in the back seat/gotta make my mind up/which seat can I take?" Or maybe you prefer "Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday/Today it is Friday/Friday...Tomorrow is Saturday/And Sunday comes afterwards."

Good grief. I can't really pin the fault of this song specifically on Rebecca Black, because she's only 13 years old. She also can't sing worth a damn, because, you know, most 13 year olds can't. But don't worry, Clarence Jay and Patrice Wilson, the song's writers (which is even more embarrassing because both of those people are grownups), layer on a heavy dose of auto-tune, so much so that even the beat sounds like it's robotic. Black has a vocal range of about four notes, and even auto-tune can't hide that. She sounds like she was momentarily excited because she got out of the waiting room and the doctor, but now she's bored again because she's in the doctor's office and he's not there yet.

To top it all off, there's a pretty awful rap thrown in by some unknown adult rapper. Actually, I'm not sure we can classify him as a rapper, because most rappers appear to have some skill. This dude just pretends like he's driving a car and comments on things going on around him, like a school bus passing. Presumably it's full of children, and presumably he's speeding up to follow it, because he's kind of creepy.

Anyway, watch this atrocity below, and the saddest part of all is that I'm sure this song will get radio play, because us viral idiots love making crappy things popular. Sigh...

This Day in History
461- St. Patrick dies. The first parade comes 1,301 years later, in 1762, taking place in New York.

1776- The British evacuate Boston. I could make a joke about that not being a bad thing for them, but I shall refrain.

1985- The Night Stalker, a serial killer, buys a gun and kills two women in separate incidents in Los Angeles, starting a summer of panic for the city.

Play Hooky with Hooters

I always thought "hooky" was spelled with an "e" (a la "hockey"), but apparently not. In any case, Hooters is offering a promotion to cure your "basketball fever" with a day of wings, beer, and taking in the games. Following that link will net you a free appetizer if you arrive at a Hooters location Thursday or Friday, and hey, while no one goes to Hooters for wings, I've never been one to scoff at free food. Here's hoping the first weekend brings some quality madness to us.


Wednesday, March 16

March Madness- Lego Edition!

Most of this month will be heavily reliant on the NCAA Tournament, because hey, that's really 95% of what's important during the month of March. Here we have some of the great moments in NBA history, performed by Legos. Awesome. Kudos to Tauntr.com for the video.

This Day in History
1751- James Madison is born. He would become the 4th president of the United States.

1802- The U.S. Military Academy is established.

1850- Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, a book that makes its way into most high school curriculums, is published.

1926- Robert H. Goddard successfully launches the first liquid-fueled rocket.

1985- In Beirut, Lebanon, journalist Terry Anderson is kidnapped and taken hostage by Islamic militants. He is released nearly seven years later, after 2,455 days.

Saturday, March 12

Time for a CD Review: Lupe Fiasco's "Lasers"

With the release of Lasers earlier this week, Lupe Fiasco hopes to finally put the drama with Atlantic Records behind him. According to Fiasco, there was quite the power struggle in the making of this album. It's the classic battle of MC versus record company--Fiasco wanted to flex his creative muscles, which he should certainly be allowed to do, as he's one of the most lyrically inventive rappers in history. Meanwhile, Atlantic Records wanted a more radio-friendly, accessible record. And the listener can definitely hear that on a few tracks. While this is still a very solid album, it's not up to par with Lupe's previous efforts, whether official record or mixtape. Let's take a look at each song individually, with a rating out of five.

"Letting Go" feat. Sarah Green- This is not the first time Miss Green has been on a Lupe Fiasco album; she made an appearance on "Real" off of Food & Liquor. I think this song is actually a little bit better than that one, and it's a good starter song for the album. Lupe gets into a little auto-tune at the end of the song, which is most likely one of the compromises he had to make to get this CD released. 4/5

"Words I Never Said" feat. Skylar Grey- Lupe simply kills it on this track. He sounds the more passionate here than anywhere else on the album, and is rapping about legitimate political issues. Grey, formerly known as Holly Brook (including an appearance on Fort Minor's "Where'd You Go?"), brings this song down a notch. The chorus just isn't as strong as the rest of the song. Fortunately, Lupe does work to save it from the cellar of the album. 4/5

"Till I Get There"- We posted this song a few days ago, and several listens later it's still my favorite song on the album. Note that many of the songs on here feature a guest, and then also note how all the ones that are just Lupe are among the best. Coincidence? Absolutely not--Lupe is far too talented, and when he's allowed his own chorus, well, look out. 5/5

"I Don't Wanna Care Right Now" feat. MDMA- This is the first of a trio of songs that feature MDMA. No, not ecstasy, the drug I'm sure the artist is named after, but rather a heavy dose of auto-tune and a techno-pop sound. Not all of the songs with MDMA are terrible, but this one is not very good. Even Lupe sounds fairly bored during his verses. This would fit right in at a club, but it's not Lupe's style, and it shows. 2.5/5

"Out of my Head" feat. Trey Songz- Trey Songz is mostly known for songs about women, songs about sex, and songs about sex with women. He is not known for his creativity or clever lyrics. That trend continues here, and it's even a bad song by Trey Songz standards. Lupe's verses suffer because of it, and after a dud in the last track as well, we need a really good song to follow. 2.5/5

"The Show Goes On"- Fortunately, this song is well-placed after a couple of subpar efforts. Sampling Modest Mouse's "Float On," Lupe (again, by himself, no guests on this one) delivers a very inspiring message while simultaneously getting a few jabs in at his record label. This may be his biggest hit to date, and ironically enough he didn't even want to record it--Atlantic told Lupe to record it and release it as the first single or the album would never come out. The end result is really fantastic, though, so even if it was painful to record, we're glad Lupe put this into the world. 5/5

"Beautiful Lasers (2 Ways)" feat. MDMA- Another song featuring the new favorite guest, MDMA's chorus is again annoying, but less so than their earlier showing. It also helps that the beat of the song isn't quite as cheesy and poppy, but this could still be an outtake from Kanye West's "808s and Heartbreak." 4/5

"Coming Up" feat. MDMA- Yet another track that has an auto-tune chorus, and it's definitely one of the more upbeat songs as far as production goes. It's nothing terribly special, but it's far from the worst song on the CD. Although I think we could again use another strong song after these two lesser ones. 4/5

"State Run Radio" feat. Matt Mahaffey- This is another barb at Atlantic Records, complaining that only overproduced, specifically tailor-made for radio songs get recognized and into heavy rotation. The beat is a departure from the rest of the album; it's definitely more rock-oriented but it fits the song perfectly. Some people might not like this one because the chorus is repetitive, but that's sort of the point--it's a song parodying pop hits while being cliched and poppy itself. I feel a bit guilty myself for liking it so much, but it is very catchy. It's also got one of my favorite lines on the album: "The truth ain't getting on, like shampoo on an airplane." 5/5

"Break the Chain" feat. Eric Turner and Sway- This has been all over ESPN recently during highlight reels and Championship Week previews, so any sports fans have probably already heard it. Again, I don't think it's anything too special. Turner does a fair job in the hook, but Sway's verse seems out of place. 3.5/5

"All Black Everything"- Once again, Lupe is by himself on this track. And once again, it's really good. He imagines a world without racial context, and it seems like a pretty special place. This is a great example of why Lupe should have control over his albums. 5/5

"Never Forget You" feat. John Legend- The album ends with a positive outlook, Lupe recalls where he came from and where he is now. Hopefully in the future he'll be making more music, because this is a strong ending to an album that was hell to make, and I'm sure it was draining. John Legend does what he does best, a soaring, epic chorus. A great closer to the CD. 5/5

Overall, while this is Lupe Fiasco's worst CD, it's still better than just about all of the songs getting play on the radio today. That's saying something about his talent, that even if some of this album was made against his will, there are enough positive glimpses that he'll be back at the top of his game sooner rather than later.

Overall score: 4/5

Thursday, March 10

Finally--More NBA Jam Session

Yes, I know I'm about two and a half weeks late on this, but one of the cool moments of NBA Jam Session was getting to try the skills competition that the professionals do on the Saturday night of All-Star Weekend. Most of them score between 30 and 40 seconds, so I made 34 a personal goal. My final time was 28.9, which I was very proud of.

I'd say considering I had porous shoes on, that was a solid effort. And while you couldn't see it, I did miss the layup at the end before putting the rebound back in. That added a good three to four seconds to my time. Note the disgust in Flip's voice as he comments on my missed layup. Then watch his effort in the second part of the video below. I apologize in advance for the shaky camera work--I was asked to move more to the side and was trying to be steady while simultaneously turning around to see where I was going, and I clearly failed.

Felipe's final time was somewhere around 47 seconds. He also missed five layups to start, and from his yell at the end you can tell he missed even one more. In fact, it wasn't until he got to the free-throw line that he successfully completed any of the stations. Unless you count dribbling around the defenders successful. I don't, since even the girls who had clearly never seen a basketball before were able to do that (albeit while double-dribbling the whole time, but still). Five misses, a slalom, an unsuccessful chest pass, two off-the-mark bounce passes, and two missed free throws (who does he think he is, Patrick Ewing in Space Jam?!?!) before finally seeing some form of success. Impressive. Enjoy the pair of us below.

Wednesday, March 9

Lupe Fiasco- "Till I Get There"

Lupe Fiasco's Lasers was released today. There's a ton of complex background on this album, but all I know is it finally dropped, and even though it appears to be getting fairly mixed reviews, I've enjoyed most of it upon a first couple listens. Here's my favorite track based off a very brief listening, called "Till I Get There."

This Day in History
Note: TDiH is for March 9, since it's already then on the East Coast, and to be honest, more interesting stuff happened than on the 8th.

1959- Barbie makes her debut.

1997- Notorious B.I.G. is killed in Los Angeles.

Monday, March 7

Back With Some Silly Links and Videos

Wow, it's been nearly a week since my Championship Fortnight picks, and watching teams I picked to represent their conferences in the NCAA tournament choke under the pressure still doesn't get old. Thank goodness for Belmont, they're the only thing keeping me from an oh-fer right now. But hey, 1 out of 4 ain't bad, although there are about six others that are already eliminated...sigh. In any case, here's some entertainment to...well, entertain you.

The New York Times created a cool digital version of "Rock, Paper, Scissors" against a robot. Strangely enough I fared better against the "Veteran" version of the 'bot than the "Novice." Either way, it's highly addictive.

I'll credit my buddy Flip for this one: a website devoted to realizations children from the 90s, now grown up, have. Not a ton of content yet, but hey, it's good for an hour or two.

Tom Hanks is a great actor. Now, on this site, he takes on his toughest role yet: a lot of animals.

Mike Tyson appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to talk about a plethora of things, including his involvement in a sequel to The Hangover. The spot ended with a battle of Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots. See how it turned out below.

This is an older clip, but well worth posting. I first saw it on E's The Soup and it still makes me laugh. Maybe because I have the mind of a 14-year-old, or maybe it's because the two other contestants do as well. Enjoy!

Lastly, there's been a ton of trick shot/throws videos accumulating on the Internet. There are some cool ones with quarterbacks Johnny McEntee of UConn and Alex Tanney of Monmouth, but I think my two favorites are the ones below. First is Zach Enyeart of Washington State doing some trick throws. Except Enyeart is a long-snapper, so these throws are all between his legs. Following that is Joe Hill and Steve Kuptak of American University doing some trick shots on a basketball court. American was a favorite along with Bucknell to win the Patriot League, but they lost tonight in double overtime to Lafayette. On the bright side, now they can practice some more of these shots.

This Day in History

1891- Bayer patents and trademarks the name "aspirin."

1981- Walter Cronkite signs off on his final newscast.

Tuesday, March 1

Championship Fortnight Predictions!

It's March, and that can only mean one thing...college basketball is about to get REALLY mad. Tonight marks the start of the conference tournaments (Big South and Horizon leagues for those of you scoring at home). For many of the smaller schools and conferences, it's win or miss the NCAA tournament entirely. Which is precisely why those tournaments are better than those of the big boys. Without further adieu, here are my predictions for the winners of each of these conference tournaments.

America East: Vermont
ACC: Duke
Atlantic Sun: Belmont (C'mon, they're 19-1 in conference, you don't think they'd slip up NOW, do you?)
Atlantic 10: Xavier
Big East: My gut thinks it's St. John's because they dominate at Madison Square Garden, but my head tells me to stick with Pitt.
Big Sky: Northern Colorado. As we like to say in Chicago, "bear down!"
Big South: Coastal Carolina. With how weak the bubble is, maybe they could even get an at-large, but I doubt they'll need it.
Big 10: Wisconsin
Big 12: Iowa State gets hot and wins the tournament! Joke. Gotta go with Kansas, even though they'll probably lose by the Elite 8.
Big West: Long Beach State
Colonial: George Mason is the conventional logic, but I'm all about unconventional, so I'll take a dark horse Hofstra team.
Conference USA: Southern Miss
Horizon League: Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Ivy League: Wait, they don't have a conference tournament--only the regular season champs get the bid. This is still an exciting league, though, likely coming down to a one-game, winner take all season finale between Harvard and Princeton. I'm taking the Crimson to avenge their earlier loss to the Tigers and snatch the bid.
MAAC: Rider, just because I like the name.
MAC: This conference is a MESS. I'll go with Akron. They deserve some good luck.
MEAC: The winner here is likely headed to one of the 16-seed play-in games. Enjoy, Bethune-Cookman!
Missouri Valley: Really a toss-up between Missouri State and Wichita State. I'll take the Shockers.
Mountain West: Do I think BYU will topple San Diego State three times in a season? Not after they suspended starting forward Brandon Davies for violating team rules. He's out for the season, so look for the Aztecs to win the crown.
Northeast: Long Island has got this on LOCK.
Ohio Valley: Murray State makes a return to the NCAAs after a first-round upset (that I correctly picked) last year. Although Morehead State and Kenneth Faried (17.6 PPG, 14.3 RPG) keep it close.
PAC-10: USC has so many bad losses, but they also have some very good wins, and for whatever reason I can see them making a run and sneaking into the tourney.
Patriot League: Only two teams have a winning conference record--Bucknell and American. And even if it makes me unpatriotic, I'm going with the Bison.
SEC: Alabama better win it if they want to make the tourney, but I'm giving it to Florida.
Southern: There are some bad teams in this league, but I'm sure that'll make it more exciting. Give the edge to Charleston, though.
Southland: Nicholls State. They have the only possible NBA prospect in Anatoly Bose, so why couldn't he carry them to a conference title?
SWAC: Jackson State makes up for choking away the regular season championship last year and makes a play-in game in the NCAAs.
Summit: Oakland. Their OOC resume is much better than anyone else in the conference, and they've only lost one game against fellow Summit teams.
Sun Belt: Florida Atlantic
West Coast: Saint Mary's, even though they're in a tailspin of late.
WAC: Utah State, although it would be interesting if someone else snuck in and got the auto. The Aggies again have no real OOC resume, so it would be interesting to see where they fell.

This Day in History
1790- Congress orders the first U.S. census to be taken.

1932- The baby of Charles Lindbergh is kidnapped.

1969- Mickey Mantle retires.